Four area schools earn Blue Ribbon

The federal government on Friday honored seven schools in the state for exceptional scores on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning.

One Seattle public school and three Eastside schools were among the seven named 2006 No Child Left Behind — Blue Ribbon Schools.

The U.S. Department of Education chose schools around the country that either closed the achievement gap or scored highly on their state tests, regardless of student demographics. The Department of Education recognized 250 schools nationally and plans to recognize more next month.

A representative of the Department of Education visited Maple Elementary School in Seattle, where Principal Pat Hunter got the Franklin High School band to make a surprise appearance at an afternoon assembly. The band theme goes along with a huge banner Hunter posted at the school this fall: "Maple's achievement beats the band."

For the past 10 years, Maple has seen steady improvements in its WASL scores. Its fourth-grade scores on last spring's test were among the highest in the district.

The other schools honored in Washington are:

• Horizon Middle School in Ferndale, Whatcom County;

• Wellington Elementary School in Woodinville;

• Moran Prairie Elementary School in Spokane;

• Pine Lake Middle School in Sammamish;

• Rosalia School District No. 320, Whitman County;

• Mercer Island High School.

Mercer Island Principal John Harrison said students and staff were thrilled when he announced the school had won the Blue Ribbon award Friday morning.

"I was getting high-fives in the hallway, and kids were saying, 'All right, we're a Blue Ribbon school!' And then, 'What does that mean?' " Harrison said. "I told them it's a real testament to the kids here and the great teaching you've had along the way, and to your parents."

Times staff reporter Rachel Tuinstra contributed to this report.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or